PHILADELPHIA - Game 7, here we come.
The Rangers want to forget Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, a troubling 5-2 loss Tuesday night. The Flyers want to remember. Somebody's season will end tonight in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.
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"We have to move on and don't think too much about this game," said Henrik Lundqvist, who surrendered four goals on 23 shots. "They did pretty much everything better than us, even goaltending, so we all have to step up tomorrow and play our best game of the series. We're going to need it."
Behind Steve Mason's 34 saves and some timely 5-for-5 penalty killing, the desperate Flyers, with their backs to the wall at home, forced the one-and-done showdown. It was the 12th straight time the Rangers had failed to take advantage of the lead in a series and the third time in this best-of-seven battle.
"It's great that we have a back-to-back," said Wayne Simmonds, whose hat trick fueled the rout in which the Flyers led 4-0. "We've got the momentum and we've got to put the pedal down."
For fans searching for a silver lining, the Rangers are 5-0 in Game 7s at home since 1992. The winner will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Lundqvist was replaced by Cam Talbot at the start of the third period. Carl Hagelin scored with 6:43 to play to spoil Mason's shutout bid and when Talbot was pulled for an extra attacker, Claude Giroux scored with 4:11 to go. Mats Zuccarello closed the scoring with 56.5 seconds left.
The Flyers didn't seem ready to play in the first period, when they were victimized by nine turnovers, most in their defensive zone, but the Rangers could not capitalize on the chances.
Then, with Benoit Pouliot in the box, the Flyers scored their fifth power-play goal of the series at 7:08. Lundqvist slid to the left post to stone Simmonds, but the Rangers couldn't clear the rebound and after a couple whacks, Simmonds eventually poked the puck in. His second came at 1:32 of the second.
The Blueshirts flubbed their second power play at 6:10 of the second and their third when Erik Gustafsson went off for high-sticking Derek Dorsett. Mason made the save of the game by snagging Pouliot's wrister with his glove at 13:07. Gustafsson then put the game away with a breakaway out of the box, as the wheels began falling off. Simmonds' third, which triggered hats raining down at Wells Fargo Center, came at 15:19.
"The guy comes out of the box and burned us," said Marc Staal. "It just got away from us in the second period."
The power play continued its death spiral, and is now 0-for-20 since Game 2. "We've got one more game to see if we can execute," said coach Alain Vigneault.
"I don't think tonight we had enough poise on the power play," said Martin St. Louis. "We seemed unable to settle down, just pressing a little too much. But we fought hard to get home-ice advantage down the stretch and this is why."
The Rangers now face a task that they dearly wanted to avoid. "Every hockey player wants to finish early," Pouliot said early in the day. "We don't want to go back and play at home."
Now they have no choice.